Gastroenteritis literally means inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract. Gastroenteritis that spread from a virus is also called "stomach flu" which is extremely common in children and is highly dangerous. Bacterial gastroenteritis is also known as "food poisoning" and is caused by food that has been prepared or stored improperly.
Most people who become infected with these viruses won't have any symptoms, as about half of these people are immune. Once in a while, an adult will get an infection severe enough to be noticeable. Children are much more likely to feel symptoms.
Symptoms include vomiting and diarrhea. Movements of bowel are usually loose and watery. Low fever, aching muscles, abdominal cramps, and headache are also possible. Rotavirus and Norwalk tend to produce the first symptoms 1 to 3 days after infection. Most of the time people recuperate within 2 or 3 days without any serious or long-lasting health effects.
More serious symptoms include:
• Vomit or stool that contains blood
• Long-duration vomiting, such as more than 48 hours
• Fever that is 101 degrees F. or more than this
• Abdominal swelling
Causes of Gastroenteritis
Viruses such as the norovirus cause gastroenteritis. Other than the norovirus, three other viruses are also common causes of gastroenteritis in USA: the rotavirus, the astrovirus, and theadenovirus, which tend to cause disease in infants and young children. They are spread by contaminated feces. Viruses find their way into food or water or onto insects or people who later touch and contaminate food (fecal-oral transmission). These viruses are tough enough to beat modern sanitation practices.
Norovirus is the typical form of gastroenteritis. It can occur at any time of year and this virus spreads by the fecal-oral route, and can also be transmitted from person to person.
Rotavirus mostly affects infants aged 3 to 15 months. Statistics show that an epidemic wave of rotavirus sweeps across US each year that starts in the Southwest in November and ends in the Northeast in March.
Adenovirus is the second most common cause of gastroenteritis in children under 2 years of age.
Food poisoning is the result of a person eating food that has grown bacteria that can cause gastroenteritis.
Home Remedies for the Stomach Flu
Most cases of gastroenteritis go away on their own, especially if caused by a virus. But a young child with fever and diarrhea or vomiting should be seen by a doctor. If vomiting or severe diarrhea persist for more than 2 days, doctor should be consulted. Stick to the so-called convalescence diet: clear liquids; consider oral rehydration solutions, such as Pedialyte. These have a balance of salts and sugars.
Washing hands frequently provides the best defense against the Norwalk virus. Owing to the fact that exposure to even a small amount of the virus is enough to make you sick. The virus can survive on inanimate objects and food for extended periods of time - perhaps as long as 12 days.
The following care is important for preventing food poisoning:
• Utensils and cooking surfaces should clean.
• Essentially wash hands before and after preparing food.
• Rinse food thoroughly.
• Clean cutting board with soap and water before and after use.
• Make sure all food is cooked thoroughly (especially seafood and poultry).
• Food should be served without any delay, after cooking.
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